POLITICS
08/12/2014 06:16 pm ET Updated Aug 12, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - NRCC Launches Low-Quality News Site To Compete With HuffPost Hill

The NRCC launched a series of "news" websites that attack Democratic candidates, though don't expect Pulitzer-quality reports from The Carol Shea-Porter, Bad For Jobs, Bad For New Hampshire Gazette. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made nice for the public, though they haven't challenged each other to dump buckets of ice water on their heads yet. And Fox contributor Keith Ablow said Michelle Obama would be more credible on nutrition if she lost weight. He likely made the offensive comment to drum up PR for his his new show, "How 'Bout A Refresher, Doll?" where he and Bob Beckel jingle tumblers of ice at guests and grouse about minorities. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, August 12th, 2014:

OBAMA AND HILLARY MAKE NICE... SORT OF - "It's 3 PM and your children are safe, but there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something awkward is happening in the world." Politico: "Hillary Clinton called President Barack Obama on Tuesday to..." make sure nobody missed that she'd been bashing him "...make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him” when she recently discussed her views on foreign policy in an interview with The Atlantic, according to a statement from a Clinton spokesman. The statement comes amid tension between the Clinton and Obama camps in the wake of the interview. It also comes as Obama and Clinton, his former secretary of state, are due to cross paths at a social gathering Wednesday night in Martha’s Vineyard. In the interview, Clinton dismissed the Obama administration’s self-described foreign policy principle of “Don’t do stupid stuff.” And while she also praised Obama several times, Clinton nonetheless called his decision not to assist Syrian rebels early on a 'failure.' Earlier Tuesday, longtime top Obama aide David Axelrod took a swipe at Clinton on Twitter, writing: 'Just to clarify: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision.' The statement from Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill noted that although Obama and Clinton have had disagreements, she has discussed these differences publicly before, including in her memoir, 'Hard Choices.'" [Politico]

@markknoller: By my count, Pres Obama attending his 400th political fundraiser this evening on Martha's Vineyard....At same point in presidency, GW Bush had done 224 fundraisers.

OBAMA ISSUES STATEMENT ON MICHAEL BROWN SHOOTING
From the White House: "The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve."

There are two different accounts of the killing. One makes perfect sense, and then there's the official police version.

The Onion's Clickhole frames it tragically well "8 More Unarmed Teens Still At Large...Anthony Russell, 14: Last seen hovering near entrance to library. Extremely unarmed." [Clickhole]

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AMERICANS SUPPORT AIR STRIKES AGAINST ISIS - Rachel Lienesch and Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Americans back President Barack Obama's decision to begin conducting air strikes in Iraq, but strongly oppose sending American ground troops to fight the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. Fifty-eight percent of Americans in the new poll supported Obama's authorization of air strikes against insurgents in Iraq, while 24 percent said they oppose the move. A similar percentage said they would approve of the use of drones. The air strikes brought a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, with 66 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans supporting the move. Independents expressed less positive opinions, with just half approving. Polls have consistently shown Americans' wariness of foreign intervention, as Obama noted in a Thursday speech. 'I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq -- even limited strikes like these,' he said." [HuffPost]

IF YOU LIKE YOUR HEALTH PLAN, YOU CAN KEEP IT - Jeff Young "President Barack Obama's administration is contacting 310,000 Obamacare enrollees starting Tuesday to warn them that they must verify they are U.S. citizens or legal residents -- or their benefits will be cut off. In letters being delivered in English and Spanish, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instructs the enrollees to provide additional documentation regarding their citizenship or immigration status by Sept. 5. Without that documentation, their health insurance plans will be rescinded Sept. 30. The recipients of these letters are people who have not responded to five to seven previous attempts to obtain their documents, according to a press release from the agency. The 310,000 people being contacted represent only a small fraction of the more than 8 million individuals who have enrolled in private coverage via the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. Nonetheless, this effort by the administration underscores the challenges left from Obamacare's troubled first open enrollment period, which began last October for benefits that took effect this year." [HuffPost]

DEMS READYING FOR IMMIGRATION PUSH - But, you know, not the kind listed above. Sam Stein and Elise Foley: "As the Obama administration gets ready to unveil a potentially wide-ranging new policy on deportation relief, Democrats are making the case that there is political cover and precedent for him to go big. In a newly released memo, the Democratic opposition research firm American Bridge highlights 10 instances in which past presidents have used their authority to apply selective prosecution of immigration laws. More often than not, those instances targeted specific populations caught up in complex and dangerous foreign policy crises. But immigration lawyers sympathetic to the White House say that these actions still provide sound principle on which the current administration can act...The memo from American Bridge looks back at immigration policy from the days of President Ronald Reagan through those of President George W. Bush." [HuffPost]

Democrats have introduced legislation targeting members' health care. It's like David Vitter's amendment, but doesn't rob $30,000-a-year staff assistants of money they've tucked away for Banana Republic chinos. Roll Call: "Democratic Reps. Dan Maffei of New York, John Barrow of Georgia and Ron Barber of Arizona, are targeting the employer contributions members of Congress receive for coverage in the D.C. health care exchange. Unlike the contentious amendment offered by Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter, their bill would not eliminate contributions for staffers...Under the 'Members Play By the Same Rules Act of 2014,' members of the House and Senate who served on or after March 23, 2010, the day Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, would no longer be eligible to get government contributions towards their premiums through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Those members of Congress would still be subject to the law’s minimum coverage requirements, but they could only enroll in coverage through the federal or state exchanges in their home districts." [Roll Call]

HAWAII SENATE: SPECIAL ELECTION SET FOR FRIDAY - Amanda Terkel: "The results of Hawaii's tight Democratic Senate primary could come Friday, after voters in two storm-ravaged precincts finally get a chance to cast their ballots. Hawaii held its primary elections on Saturday, but many voters in the district of Puna were unable to turn out to vote because of a tropical storm that swept through the area. The results of the Democratic Senate primary, between Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), remain too close to call. Schatz currently has just a 1,635-vote lead. On Monday, Hawaii's Office of Elections announced that voters in the two affected precincts in Puna will get a chance to vote in person Friday, which is a state holiday. According to Honolulu Civil Beat, the results will be announced that same evening... Hanabusa told Politico Monday that her team of lawyers are looking into possible 'irregularities' in the voting in the areas affected by the storm, beyond just the two precincts that are getting additional time to vote." [HuffPost]

Mitch McConnell angling for another six-year mandate with a RESOUNDING plurality: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has the edge over Democratic rival Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky's competitive Senate race, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. The survey gives McConnell 44 percent to Grimes' 40 percent, with libertarian David Patterson taking 7 percent...'The main thing that's changed since then is McConnell seeing some consolidation in his base ... This is the first time PPP has looked at approval and favorability ratings for McConnell and Grimes since December, and although he remains unpopular McConnell's seen improvement on that front as well,' pollster Tom Jensen wrote in the survey's release." [HuffPost's Ariel Edwards-Levy]

NRCC LAUNCHES FAKE NEWS SITE - [Obligatory Fox News joke]. National Journal: "The National Republican Congressional Committee, which came under fire earlier this year for a deceptive series of fake Democratic candidate websites that it later changed after public outcry, has launched a new set of deceptive websites, this time designed to look like local news sources. The NRCC has created about two dozen of these new faux-news sites targeting Democrats, both challengers and incumbents, and is promoting them across the country with localized Google search ads. The NRCC's single-page sites are designed to appear to be a local news portal, with logos like 'North County Update' or 'Central Valley Update.' The articles begin in the impartial voice of a political fact-checking site, hoping to lure in readers. 'We'll take a look at her record and let you decide,' starts one. Then they gradually morph into more biting language. At the very bottom, in a box, is the disclaimer that the NRCC paid for the site." [National Journal ]

JEFF BRIDGES FOR SENATE NOT HAPPENING, APPARENTLY WAS A THING - Though the thought of a campaign with the slogan, "YOU ARE NOT LABEOUF," pleases us to no end. "'The dude' for U.S. Senate in Montana? As in Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges, sometime Montana resident, and iconic stoner from 'The Big Lebowski'? Well, no. But that didn’t stop a furious social media campaign from promoting the rumor on Monday. Democrats in Montana are in the midst of searching for and deciding on a candidate to replace Sen. John Walsh, who took himself out of the race for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat last week in the wake of a plagiarism scandal surrounding his master’s degree paper in 2007. Several legitimate candidates have emerged, but in the past few days, the idea of Bridges being the one got plenty of attention on Facebook and a mention on several Democratic blogs and websites...Bridges, however, pretty much put the kibosh on the idea during an interview Monday on Howard Stern’s radio show. He said he’d run across the 'draft Bridges' effort on the Internet, and that he mentioned it to his wife, Sue, and called her 'Mrs. Senator.' 'She looks at me and goes, `Don’t even think about it,’' Bridges said." [Billings Gazette]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are our favorite Robin Williams moments.

GODDAMNIT, FOX - Between this and Shep Smith denouncing Robin Williams as a coward, the last 24 hours have really been Fox News' 100 years storm of awful health coverage. Jack Mirkinson: "We can always count on Fox News's resident medical expert, Dr. Keith Ablow, to provide sound and sensitive judgments about today's hot-button health issues. Hahahahahahahahaha sorry what we meant was the exact opposite of that. Take Tuesday, for instance, when Ablow tackled a topic nobody was discussing: Michelle Obama's weight as it pertains to her healthy eating campaigns. 'She needs to drop a few,' Ablow, who is not a nutritionist, opined. 'Let’s be honest. We’re taking nutrition advice from who?' Good point, said nobody." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- A remix of Neil deGrasse' Tyson hosting the "Cosmos" reboot.

- An 8-bit rendering of the "Twin Peaks" title sequence.

- David Attenborough narrates fan girls.

- A countdown of the 50 best album closing tracks.

- Muppets performing the Beastie Boys' "So What'cha Want."

- A mashup of lawmakers discussing the need to "work together."

- The genome of domestic cats has been fully mapped.

TWITTERAMA

@rebeccaberg: Welcome to the news biz, NRCC! You'll love the low median salary and fragile job security

@speechboy71: Why writing about 1968 is so much fun: just found in my notes a news item that in Oct '68, George Wallace was booed by school children

@pourmecoffee: Obama said something about a racial issue. Let the wild rumpus begin!

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